“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius
People often talk about the fact that millennials are a generation of job-switchers. We are supposedly always looking for something better to do and we prefer to live in the moment rather than set a long-term career goal.
In real life, when I talk to my friends, most of us seem to have a general plan of what we want to do. When I talk to my older peers (who also had a plan at my age) a lot of them graduated and realized they wanted to do something else. So what’s the deal with this disconnect that converts us into wanderers, and how do we figure out where we belong?
And millennials aren’t the only ones. The generations before us are more likely to have a long-term stable career, but still, most of the adults I’ve known have switched careers once if not multiple times.
As I begin my first internship in the field of my choice, it’s hard not to worry. It’s only been a couple of weeks so far, but I can’t help but wonder if I’ll return home at the end of the summer with some new idea of what I want to do.
People are always telling you to do whatever makes you happy, but it’s impossible to try every single thing. Just like choosing a life partner or picking your forever-home, you have to eventually settle on something and cross your fingers– or jump from place to place.
People also like to tell you that your dream job probably involves whatever you like to do outside the office. For example, if you spend all your spare time baking extravagant cakes for your friends, maybe you shouldn’t be working in an office at all. Of course, if you spend almost all your time at work and you don’t nurture some post-work hobbies, you’ll never get a chance at finding your passion. So, my first thought is: If you think you’re in your dream job, but you don’t have time for anything but work, something is probably wrong. Even the greatest of jobs should leave you with a little bit of downtime for the sake of work-life balance. No dream job should keep you from spending time with your family or having a life that involves other things. If you do have a job that leaves you with some downtime, but going to work every day feels like a huge chore, that job isn’t the one either.
Second, I think you should take a look at what you do at work all day. Think about your daily or weekly schedule and decide which tasks and activities are your favorites or least favorites. If you spend the majority of your time completing the less enjoyable tasks, you might want to start brainstorming job ideas in which you can mainly complete the tasks you like. You might even find that there’s a position more suited to your personality within the company you already work for.
Next, you should consider what attracted you to your current career path. Maybe you thought this career would be exciting, or mentally challenging, or creative. Then, assess whether or not you were correct! A lot of careers (especially the ones held by characters in movies, shows, and books) are heavily romanticized. You may find that the things that attracted you to a job didn’t hold true. If so, you might want to go to some networking events and try to meet people in other careers that have the traits you’re looking for. If your career has most of the attributes you were seeking, you can still network and learn about other opportunities, but you’ve most likely hit your jackpot already.
Of course, some people believe that dream jobs don’t exist. And who knows, maybe they’re right. No matter how great some jobs seem, you almost always have to work through a few less enjoyable, entry-level positions to get there. Then, by the time you reach your goal, you might be sick of the whole career path and want to do something else. Maybe your dream job is the type of thing that doesn’t lead to much money — but you’re the type of person who wants to live a more affluent lifestyle. To be honest, I’m still not really sure if dream jobs are a real thing or most people just haven’t figured out how to find what they’re looking for.
For now, my goal is to simply keep my eyes open. Maybe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and maybe I’m not. All I can do is remind myself to assess whether I’m happy, make sure all my soul’s needs are met, and hold no prejudices about what a job, company, or career could be like.